New: Thunderbolt City – Flashback

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 6.46.20 pm

Sometimes it can be easy to forget about how great Canberra’s music scene is. I mean, the place is stacked with great bands like Wives, California Girls, Passive Smoke and of course TV Colours, but our nation’s capital never seems to get the same recognition as the EAST COAST BIG THREE™.

Ultimately, I think it’s just a matter of Dream Damage and associated labels maintaining their batting average of 100, and pouring incredible release after incredible release into our iTunes libraries until Gough Whitlam’s re-animated corpse announces July 22nd as National Celebrate Canberra’s Music Scene Day. Until then, smash that mf’ing ‘follow’ button on Dream Damage’s Soundcloud, so you can be up to date with their great releases, such as the debut Thunderbolt City track.

“Flashback” incorporates all that awesome power-pop stuff that was out before I was even a twinkle in my old man’s eye. Even though the recordings are on the rougher side, the thrashy melodies that nod affectionately at Cheap Trick and The Replacements shine through with blistering power, the strutting solos and charging riffs melting into your brain in a way that only a disciple of “Bastards of Young” could pull off. That kind of raw, heaving energy is a perfect example of why folks should stick their heads outside of their local bubble, and have a dig through whatever is brewing in the sewers of Parliament House. Actually can’t wait for this tape to come out next week! Cop it here.

New: Scotdrakula – Skeleton Fever

11665676_10152969112908008_3145573174475955657_n

A few months ago, a Facebook event popped up that said something along the lines of “FINAL SCOTDRAKULA SHOW…”, and my heart jumped into my mouth. Beads of sweat trailed down my scalp, a burning rash of anxiety shot through my innards – Scotdrakula were breaking up???

Yes, and no – Scotdrakula will continue, but without the spiritual mentorship and bass whizz Dove Bailey, who has left for New York. On the upside, Dove has made his final mark with “Skeleton Fever”, a significantly beautiful song that needs your ears like Mike Baird needs a crack in the head. It follows down the road of Scotdrakula’s more poignant jams like “Break Me Up”, gently unspooling alongside a buzzing organ and toe-tapping guitar melodies. With it’s yearning chorus and hazy charm, there’s something immediately comfortable “Skeleton Fever”, even if you’re only hearing it for the first time.  And although it’s comparatively quieter to the speedy, jilted garage-pop they’ve became known for, it still hits home as hearteningly as anything Scotdrakula have written before.

Scotdrakula are going on the huge ‘Up the Guts’ tour of Australia with Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Ali E, Ben Wright Smith and more – dates here

New: Good Boy – Poverty Line

12821472_1702744740003828_5562356378355899630_n

I’ve always liked Brissy’s Good Boy – songs like “Transparency” were always enough to perk the ears, but I had yet to catch the song that made me switch from Jekyll to Hyde, sauntering up to whoever happened to be closest and interrogating them with news of the track. That mentality (and my mental state) has shifted dramatically with the introduction to their new single “Poverty Line” – I’m sold like a goon sack to a 17 year old on their way to their formal after party.

It’s not just the Eddy Current-styled trashy delivery that lifts this song, or the vitriolic subject matter that hits way too close to my exceedingly empty bank account. “Poverty Line” feels infinitely more convincing and urgent – there’s real spit behind that yelp. The dust bowl has been stirred, and the sting in your eyes feels good, it makes you feel alive and excited. Good Boy are prepping the needle for an impromptu stick ‘n’ poke that’ll turn out to be your favourite tattoo. They’re not just another band – they’re THE FUCKING BAND.

New: Witch Hats – Deliverence

13322180_10153460685745706_3408540245327638035_n

THEY’RE BACK! They said it couldn’t be done, but new Witch Hats has landed in our laps, and fuck me, doesn’t it sound great? Although they’ve mellowed since their earlier noise offerings like “Ma Birthday”, this new stuff still has plenty of kick and snarl to beckon your attention.

“Deliverance” pulsates with power, starting small before unleashing the fireworks at the end. It’s got an irrepressable swagger, the kind that you’d find adorned on the blemished, bruised but never beaten bloke at the back of the pub who’s obviously got a few stories under his belt. Every time that chorus comes round, there’s another blow to the chest, a flick behind the ears, an electrical shock to the pleasure centres in the brain. When that final boom is heard in the last few moments of “Deliverance”, aided by the usual Witch Hats cacophony, you can’t help but want to detach your jaw so you can sing just that little bit louder and bawdier.

Deliverance will be coming out on July 1st on Behind the Beat Records.

New: Middle Kids – Edge of Town

13118956_824130961026180_4257803287934940724_n

A few weeks back, I was walking past my boss’ office on my way to assault a plate of nachos, when all of a sudden, I heard the kind of song that forces you to let a plate of Doritos slathered in mild salsa go to the dogs. It was this indie rock track that belied all the other shit I’d heard recently, led by a voice that would be enough for Angel Olsen to up and leave it all behind.

It was a brilliant, exuberant and cathartic release, a real chiropractic sort of song in that when your neck snaps 180 degrees to discover more about it, you end up fixing that spinal fracture you’ve held since last year’s footy season. A few bars in, I was hooked.

“Mate, what the fuck is this?”, I exclaimed, whilst holding a serrated blade to his throat. “It’s Middle Kids! It’s the fucking Middle Kids!”, he cried, eyes rolling around his head in a panic. I pressed the knife a little closer, the threat demanding more.  “I can’t give it to you yet, it’s not meant to be officially released for another couple of weeks!”. Blood trickled from the wound I was slowly sealing into his flesh. Normally, I’d just add the body to my tally of foes that had crossed me in the past. But with those vocals soaring above me – I don’t know. Ya can’t commit a cold-blooded murder in the middle of such a beautiful song. Ya just can’t.

Cold steel clanged to the ground of the cubicle. “When this finally hits the Internet….you let me know”. And with that, my obsession with Middle Kids, as well as a termination notice from my old work, had begun.

New: Hockey Dad – So Tired

73ef0f34-eacf-422d-a5c0-6b4e710b8e79

Let’s be real – your mates Hockey Dad were always going to be a bunch of superstars when they decided to name themselves after a ridiculously obscure Simpsons reference. It’s a shame they didn’t go with Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge, or they would’ve been a surefire contender for the biggest Aussie rock gods since Bon Scott had an unfortunate chuck up.

Top notch pop culture nods aside, Hockey Dad continue to be favourites because they write damn fine songs. Cruisy, carefree, but never crude, it is easier to get swept up in the charm and riffs of Hockey Dad than it is to draw dignity.

Case in point: “So Tired”. It’s the first single from their debut album “Boronia”, which promises to feature crisp white buns and garage pop goodness in equal measure. They’ve thrown the song out a few times during their near constant touring, and it’s always proved a winner, so it’s good to see the recorded version has lost none of its ability to get a smile on ya dial.

Album Review: AUSTRALIA – Portraits of Places, People and Movies

a0585915023_16

1983. Australia. Fuck yeah. According to Wikipedia, some real crazy shit went down ’round this time: Jonathan Thurston was born, Parramatta romped the Eagles in the finals, and Bob Hawke went on national television and told everyone to get drunk after we won a boat race. Also, some of the all-time singles this country has ever produced were birthed during this period. “Rain”, “Reckless”, “I Hear Motion”, and this absolute national treasure. The kind of songs that you’ll scoff at from your hip share house, until it’s 3am, the pub’s run dry, old mate’s kicking you out and you’ve got your arm around someone you met thirty seconds ago screaming, “THROW DOWWWN YOOUUUURRR GUUUU-UUUNS”. 1983. Australia. Fuck yeah.

It’s this precise time period that AUSTRALIA (the band) are attempting to encapsulate, that golden era of pub rock when this country really struck a musical identity. It’s a brave move – right now, most bands in this country are either making plaintive guitar pop, or garagey punk. No one has thought to hark back to a phase that is often ridiculed, unless it’s during the aforementioned gloriously drunken hour of 3am. But AUSTRALIA succeed because they don’t just emulate the music that they likely grew up with, but actually understand its simple pleasure: to get people to dance, instead of mosh, to guitars.

Sure, their debut still carries the trademarks of their forbearers: Aussie Crawl, Midnight Oil, The Models, and Goanna all pop up as obvious soundchecks in AUSTRALIA’s music. Shit, the record even evolves in the same way you would expect an 80’s No.1 Album would: Hit, Hit, Mega Hit, Introspective Ballad, Fodder, Fodder, Absolute Belter, And A Big Sweeping Gesture to Close.

But when you hear a song like “Wake In Fright”, or “Breathe In”, there’s that something there where you know it ain’t mere replication. It’s the sharp stabs of guitar, the warm, encompassing buzz of synths, the baritone bellow that stirs you equally in the heartcage as it does the feet. It’s the anthems paired right next to the songs you’d love to listen to roaring down the highway, alone after a breakup. It’s the way that if you close your eyes, AUSTRALIA catapult you decades before you were born, to the seat leaning against the Lansdowne bar, stuffing spilling from the soiled seat cushion, jukebox blaring the soon-to-be classic “Who R U?”. The place stinks of piss, someone’s chucking up in the alley outside, and the pub is heaving with dancing bodies.  Fuck, it feels good.

Portraits of People, Places and Movies has its weaker moments, but as a whole package, its a record that delivers something that shouldn’t be feasible in 2016. Why the fuck would the kids want to listen to the music their parents forced on them? Because AUSTRALIA’s making that music, goddmit, and it sounds good. Who knows? Maybe thirty years from now, someone’s gonna come stumbling out of the bowlo, air guitar in hand, barking, “LOVE! IS BETTER! COME TAKE ME UNDER THIS WATER!”.

Portraits of People, Places and Movies is out now, grab it here. They’ll be playing the ‘Gong on April 1st and Brighton Up Bar in Sydney on the 2nd, both shows with YEEVS (!) and Phantastic Ferniture (!).

New: So Pitted – Rot In Hell

 

So Pitted Band Photos

Some people think Sub Pop kind of went a bit soft when they signed Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and Beach House. I think they’re forgetting the fact that this label has been home to some of the most batshit crazy bands of the last 30 years. And not just stuff like Mudhoney, feedtime, or Nirvana’s first (and best album). No, let us remember recent skull-poppers like METZ, Pissed Jeans, and Melbourne’s own Deaf Wish. When it comes to rock n roll that grinds your head in the pavement, Sub Pop can be trusted.

Enter So Pitted. Hold your horses, they are probably named after a dumb video on the Internet, but they are so much more than a catch phrase uttered by a grommet. “Rot In Hell” is loaded with an acidic sneer, rock dipped in a vat of the stuff that turned Bruce Banner into a green psychopath. So Pitted sound like they’re mutants yelling from a sewer, clawing at the ceilings, taunting their eventual arrival. It’s a death march, and they’re laughing, because you’re fucking next. George A. Romero would be so proud.

 

Album Review: Wild Honey – Wild Honey EP

EP Cover ArtPersonal anecdote that almost no one will find appealing: I used to work alongside Thom Moore from Wild Honey. And by work, I mean, I did about 3-4 days of work experience at Mojo’s, the record store/bar in Wynyard. After two weeks, my Mum told me that I had to stop going to Mojo’s because I needed to concentrate on my HSC. Even though that was a bit of a lost cause  (the mystery mark speaks for itself), I had fun flipping through records in a basement. A huge shipment of LP’s had come in at that time, and Thom specifically asked that if any surf records came through, I should throw them his way. After finally getting to hear Wild Honey, the craving for these surf records all makes perfect sense now. I mean, there’s a goddamn beach on the front cover, in case you’re bad at picking up subtle hints.

This EP is a strong fever dream of adoration for late 60’s rock and pop, particularly Love and The Velvet Underground. The hallmarks are there, from harmonica solos, to languid guitars, and lyrics that reach to the sort of eternal summer that only exists in the universe of Grease Lightning. Wild Honey work well with a pop-rock that isn’t just summery, but puts the writers behind the Coke jingles to shame. A song like “This Time” works as a cool down just as well as wiping a VB on your forehead, and “Coming Home” sounds less like a desire to go to one place than to be entirely transported to 60’s era California. “Eye to Eye” stands out particularly, as just being an on-point pop song. It’s well-written, catchier than one of Ben Lee’s diseases, and its got a ripper video about aliens and murder, so everyone’s a winner, right?

Although only four tracks long, this EP shows a lot of promise for Wild Honey. The songs are unforced and come quite easily, something a lot of bands who try and re-create songs removed multiple times from their generation can struggle with. Owning a collection of surf records that could kill someone when toppled over surely doesn’t hurt. For a day like today, in which a step outside turns your face into the Red Skull, maybe sit indoors and enjoy Wild Honey’s debut.

Wild Honey play tonight at The Union Hotel, a free show with Bearhug and Shining Bird.

PREMIERE: Prints Familiar – Screenshot

12140030_1200854486607721_4800916427088696198_o

I’m on my deathbed. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, but the Black Plague is upon me. I’m suffocating on waves of phlegm, my bones hurt, my throat is lined with blades that gleefully slice and dice my oesophagus every time I inhale. I’m being skullfucked by the Grim Reaper, and these are my final words: enjoy the latest from Prints Familiar!

Formerly known as just Prints, the Sydney foursome have just announced their sophomore EP, following on from last years Some People Will Listen to Anything. As coughing fits consume my soul, I’ll weakly reach out to press play on “Screenshot”, their new single. Part Strokes, part The Bravery, “Screenshot” is the past decade’s golden bands of indie rock distilled into one danceable tune that’s catchier than the sickness that is currently wreaking havoc upon my very being.

Prints Familiar will be launching “Screenshot” when they support the very excellent Good Counsel at their album launch next Thursday, the 26th of November, at the Newtown Social Club.